Friday, May 15

Star Trek (2009)

Boldly going where no Trek has gone before.

Well, what else can I say that all the countless other glowing reviews of J.J. Abrams' re-imagined, re-booted Star Trek movie haven't already said? Well, not much aside from the usual, I guess- the new cast of actors assigned to playing the iconic crew members of the U.S.S. Starship Enterprise are pretty much pitch-perfect, with Karl Urban's Leonard McCoy and Zachary Quinto's Spock looking eerily like cloned younger versions of their previous performers. Chris Pine extricates himself from the bonds of immortal William Shatner by not even attempting to mimic his predecessor, but still succeeds in projecting the Trek's brash, eternal hero with a double shot of hormones and testosterone. It's a complex tale of Time Travel and Alternate Realities which pits the neophyte Trekkers against a revenge-mad Romulan named Nero (Eric Bana) bent on rewriting history one planet at a time.

Performances aside, the special effects are spectacular, with energetic space battles and action occuring in space, in starships, on-planet. Abrams conveys lots of emotion through music and frenetic images which gloriously never devolve into the horrid handicam nonsense of Cloverfield. I felt chills go down my spine in the first few minutes of this film, with a hero's birth juxtaposed in the fires of a deadly attack- pretty much sums up the whole saga of this movie. In any case, that was a good sign that this was going to be a thrill ride, and it was. As an Abrams show, this has its share of wit, snappy dialogue, sexiness, hard-hitting action and quite a lot of humor in between the phaser blasts, transporter beams and collapsing stars. They just took the original premise, the established characters and just. went. wild. Die-hard, purist Trekkies may bristle, but this is just brilliant. THIS is how you re-invigorate a franchise. Or, in this case, re-energize.

Star Trek is out in theaters all over the Federa- er, Metro Manila. Bring together your away team and see this one, all speed!

Monday, May 11

Dragonball Evolution

Goku's facial expression just captures my own feelings towards this film.

Finally got to watch this last night. On the plus side, the copy I got was wonderfully clear (although I really, really need to get a home theater setup to enjoy good sound) on The Sanctum's big-screen TV. On the bad side, I've heard lots of bad things about this live-action adaptation of Akira Toriyama's mega-popular manga and anime about super-powered aliens fighting it out with massive power blasts... and they're all pretty much true. I'm not the biggest Dragonball fan though, so this really hasn't the magnitude of my Chun-Li review.

Anyway, a legendary alien villain named Piccolo (played by an unrecognizable James Marsters) has escaped his 2,000 year prison and is now trying to obtain all seven mystical dragonballs in order to gain one perfect wish for his revenge against the world. The only one who can stop him is Goku (a totally miscast Justin Chatwin), a youth raised by the kindly Gohan (Randall Duk Kim) with mysterious origins. After Gohan is murdered by Piccolo, Goku sets out to avenge him, joining up with the hot Bulma (Emmy Rossum, whom I have to commend for being able to say her character's whole name with a straight face) and Gohan's mentor, Roshi (a particularly goofy Chow Yun Fat). Oh, and some guy named Yamcha joins up somewhere along the way.

Unfortunately, as is the case that usually happens, Dragonball Evolution falls woefully short in pretty much every aspect in trying to adapt the epic scale of it's source material. This is pretty much TV-grade fare (This is the sort of thing you'd see on the Hallmark Channel), watered down further by the typical silly tendency of Hollywood to force-fit every story into a template (Goku turns into an offbeat teen trying to fit into a high school?) they're comfy with. Mediocre action, cheap-looking CG, a rushed feel to pretty much everything and a lackluster finale fail to reach any power level of significance. Kung Fu Hustle was more Dragonball than this... speaking of which, did I see Stephen Chow's name attached to this flick? Yeesh.

In the end, just a harmless, inconsequential pseudo-fantasy martial arts flick that you just watch and forget. Moving on...